Germanic philology

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims at introducing the historical-comparative study of the old Germanic languages and of the cultural and textual production of the Germanic peoples. It pays particular attention to the phonological development from Indo-European to Proto-Germanic and to the medieval Germanic languages through the reading of their written sources.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding: knowledge of the fundamental questions about the linguistic, textual and historical-cultural shaping of the medieval Germanic world, analyzed from a comparative perspective; knowledge of the linguistic phenomena which led to the birth and development of the old Germanic languages, particularly from the phonological and morphological viewpoint. Applying knowledge and understanding: ability to read, translate, and analyze texts written in the principal Old Germanic languages from the grammatical and semantic point of view and within their historical and cultural background.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the publich health situation.
Course syllabus
The course is called "Names of places, persons and gods" and consists of the following three parts, which will be addressed in sequence:
A: Introduction to Germanic culture;
B: Historical-comparative linguistics of the ancient Germanic languages;
C: Germanic names of places, persons and gods in documentary and literary sources: etymology and cultural reflections.
For the students of the Course of Studies C23 the course provides 9 ECTS. It is not possible to acquire only 6 ECTS. Students of other CdS who intend to acquire 6/9 ECTS have to agree the programme with the professor.
Part A will study the history of the Germanic peoples through historiographic and archaeological sources; furthermore paganism, Christianization and the consequent spread of book culture in central-northern Europe, from the late ancient period to the end of Middle Ages. Part B will deal with the phonological phenomena that led to the birth and differentiation of the Germanic languages; the oldest stage will be analyzed both from a phonological and morphological point of view. In Part C we will analyze text passages written in the main old Germanic languages, transmitting names of places, persons and gods, which will be studied from the etymological and cultural viewpoint.
The course programme is valid until February 2023. Starting from the Summer session 2023 it will be possible to apply for the exam exclusively on the programme of the academic year 2022/23.
Prerequisites for admission
The course, which is held entirely in Italian, the materials and the bibliography of the examination require good technical and linguistic skills; to take the exam of German Philology is therefore necessary to have already taken and passed the exam of Glottology.
Teaching methods
The course adopts the following teaching methods: frontal lessons; reading and linguistic-philological commentary of passages from the texts in the programme.
Teaching Resources
The course has a website on the online teaching platform Ariel (, to which reference should be made for lesson notes and other materials provided by the professor.
The following are the mandatory readings for the three parts of the course:
Part A:
- Lesson notes (they will be gathered in a booklet, available in Ariel at the end of the course);
- Tacito, "La Germania" (an edition of your choice in Italian translation);
- Raymond Ian Page, "Miti scandinavi", Mondadori 1995 (the whole book; no longer on the market, available in libraries), or Gianna Chiesa Isnardi, "I miti nordici", Longanesi 1997 (at least two chapters of your choice for a total of about one hundred pages).
Part B:
- Booklet "Linguistica storico-comparativa" (available in Ariel at the beginning of the course);
Part C:
- Lesson notes (they will be gathered in a booklet, available in Ariel at the end of the course);
- Anthology of the texts (available in Ariel).
Examination programme for non-attending students:
The programme for non-attending students is identical to the programme for attending students.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam is held in Italian; it consists of an individual interview, which includes questions posed by the professor and interactions between professor and student, and duration varies depending on the didactic parts prepared: the interview begins with questions on part A and continues with the discussion on part C, during which the student must be able to analyze the texts in the programme both from the historical-cultural point of view, and phonological, applying the linguistic phenomena studied in part B, with particular attention to the terms commented during the course.
During the exam will be tested:
- level of knowledge and understanding of the topics of parts A and C;
- level of autonomy in recognizing and analyzing the linguistic phenomena studied in parts B and C;
- adequacy of language in expressing and applying the knowledge and competences acquired in the three parts.
The final grade is expressed in 30ths, and the student has the right to refuse it (in which case it will be recorded as "withdrawn").
International students or incoming Erasmus students are invited to contact the teacher as soon as possible. The examination procedures for students with disabilities and/or with DSA must be agreed with the teacher, in agreement with the competent office.
Unita' didattica A
L-FIL-LET/15 - GERMANIC PHILOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
L-FIL-LET/15 - GERMANIC PHILOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
L-FIL-LET/15 - GERMANIC PHILOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Educational website(s)
Thursdays, h. 14 and on appointment in Teams
S. Alessandro, outside room A1 in the courtyard